If you're searching for a one-of-a-kind day trip, you have to try this hike in New Jersey. Located inside the Ramapo Mountain State Forest, you'll be able to wander through the ruins of an abandoned castle and take in the sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline in the distance. Keep reading to learn more.
Ramapo Mountain State Forest is located in the northeastern corner of the state. To get here, you can take I-287 and get off at exit 57 and head down Skyline Drive in Oakland, NJ.
This state park is a 4,200-acre forest that's home to hiking trails, a lake, and tons of rock ledges that provide incredible mountain views.
One of the most interesting sites at Ramapo Mountain is the Van Slyke Castle.
Originally known as Foxcroft, this house was built to resemble a castle by New York City stockbroker William Porter in the early 1900s. It was built on what was known as Fox Hill. Porter died an untimely death in 1911 in an automobile crash with his wife Ruth. Having transitioned multiple owners over the years, the property was eventually abandoned in the 1950s, and ever since the castle has laid in ruins. Because it has remained so accessible to hikers, the castle has been victim to vandals and was even partially burned down in 1959.
To reach the castle, you'll follow a fairly moderate trail that's mostly paved. The path spans 2.3 miles. The Van Slyke Castle Loop entrance is located inside a medium-sized dirt lot along Skyline Drive. You'll likely encounter a few rocks along the way so wearing hiking boots is strongly encouraged.
Before you reach the castle you'll also pass by the beautiful Ramapo Lake.
Keep hiking uphill and you will pass by a wonderful clearing in the woods with some amazing views. Further up you'll spot a tiny wooden staircase that climbs over a stone wall. This vantage point provides for some NYC skyline views on a clear day.
Soon, the ruins of the castle will come into view. Crumbling stone walls covered in graffiti, steel beams, an old water tower, and a pool are all visible here. Hikers can even go in and explore the remaining stone structures.
This fascinating remnant of the past serves as a spooky yet beautiful view of nature slowly reclaiming this abandoned stone castle. It makes for some amazing photo ops so be sure to bring a camera along the way.